No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


I've recently spent a few days at a lovely old hotel in Sesimbra, Portugal, the Hotel Do Mar, with my son and three of my four grandchildren. (The fourth, 22 months old, stayed at home with my daughter.)

Before we went, I spoke to the hotel who vaguely assured me that they would be able to cater for my veganism.

On the first day, I had breakfast of cereal with fruit juice, toast and jam - so no problem there. (I don't usually have breakfast, but, hey, I'm on holiday, right?)

When I spoke to the Maitre D, I had to explain - several times - just exactly what a vegan could and could not eat. He was very curious - and a bit mystified, I have to say.

Lunch was veg soup, fried potatoes and bread. Interestingly, the soup was billed as a cream soup - but I was assured that 'creamed' in this case meant 'blitzed'. The Portuguese haven't yet adopted the abominable English (?) habit of adding cream to their soups.

Dinner was a veg stew with asparagus as a side dish - bit average, truth be told, but OK for all that. However it was served in a large dish, and the 8/9 sticks of asparagus were in a separate dish, placed on another layer of veg. 

Breakfast and lunch on the second day were as before, and for dinner I was given a risotto. Not the best one I've ever had, but, I was fed and I was happy. Again,  I wasn't just handed a plateful of food, it came in a large serving dish - and was far too much for me to eat by myself. Happily, my family came somewhat to my rescue.

On the third day I was told by the M.D. that my dinner was on its way, just to be patient - and then this arrived!

Stuffed Pepper - just gorgeous
I have to admit, I'm not all that fond of stuffed peppers, but as I got into it, my mind was slowly changed, and by the time it was all gone, I was a convert. It was wonderful, and the pic just doesn't do it justice! Family's help not needed on this occasion - although they all did have a taste.

On the fifth day, there was a change to the lunch routine - I got myself some soup and fried potatoes, but then, this arrived!

[No pic, as yet, it's on my son's phone]

It was absolutely stunning. The flavours were fabulous!

Finally, for the last dinner - rolled, stuffed cabbage:

Stuffed cabbage - simply wonderfu!
I often eat out and think I can do better myself - but with these last three meals, that thought had never crossed my mind. I had eaten royally - the chef rose to the chalIenge, and I had been treated like an honoured guest!

I asked to see the chef, and shook his hand - he thanked me, but it was obvious that he just thought he was doing his job.

All in all, this is one hotel that I can truly recommend for other vegans.

Apart from the food, everything else was just as it should be, in a (rather tired, it has to be said, but none the worse for that), 4-star hotel. The location is superb, being on the northern end of Sesimbra bay and every room has a sea view. The beach is just across the (not very busy) road in front of the hotel - with everything you would expect on a beach in Portugal. 

The sea was as flat as a mill pond on every day we were there (albeit a bit chilly at 13C) and the kids had an absolute ball in the sun (28/29C every day). I sat under the shade, reading, and all I had to do was to enjoy the odd beer with my son and make sure the kids had plenty of ice creams.

All in all, I ate and drank very well during the week, and denied myself nothing. However, I fasted for 24 hours on the way out and 30 hours on the way back. Not having to worry about food whilst in transit is very liberating. And I'm still using the same hole in my belt that I've been using for getting on for three years now!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Seitan generally:

Seitan is wheat gluten powder (available online from the Low Carb Megastore ) mixed with something tasty into a stiff dough. The tasty stuff (ragu sauce, lentil curry, dried apricots [soaked overnight], or whatever) can be mashed or blitzed with a hand blender. This latter produces a thick slurry to which you add gluten powder. I generally work on the ratio of 2 parts slurry to one part gluten powder - but you may have to add either more GP or liquid. In my experience you need to heavily spice your slurry - over-spice it if you like.


200g of seitan - enough for a meal with some leftover for the next day

Once the seitan is made, fill up a small cooking dish with as much as you can get in - in this case, around 200g - and then cook for 30 minutes at 200C.

I generally have about 2/3rds of this with my roast dinner, and the rest I'll chop into chunks and have in a chilli non carne or similar.


Monday 23rd January 2012
Following a discussion on the BBC Food board last night, I made a batch of these, some of which I had last night, and another batch of which I've just eaten for breakfast. 

(When starting a sourdough culture, you're asked to discard part of it regularly during the early stages. However, this discard makes excellent pikelets.)

In the light of this I've updated the recipe (see below) - and I took several more pics:

The first two were cooked on top and the rest are just drying from the sides 
The third one turned over and the others continuing to dry from the edges 
All done - just need something on top...

...and covered with marmalade. Breakfast is ready!
Have to admit I found it hard to resist eating these just as soon as they come out of the frying pan. Had some for my pudding tonight, made some for my wife and made enough for tomorrow's breakfast.

June 2010.

Placed in the frying pan, a dessertspoon at a time
Oops, seems to be one missing!
There are few things easier than making pikelets (free-form crumpets).  It’s a good way into breadmaking for a beginner.

300ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon yeast – any kind
Enough strong (breadmaking) flour - around 200g - to make a thickish paste

(Check here for a gluten-free version.)

Stir the water/yeast/flour mixture, adding more flour if it’s a bit thin – or more water if it’s a bit thick, and leave until you're ready to cook them.

When you're ready to go, lightly oil a frying pan and place over a medium heat.

When the pan is warm enough, place a spoonful of batter in the frying pan to see if the batter is the right consistency. If they spread across your frying pan the batter is too thin and you’ll need to add some more flour to thicken it. Cook them until the top has turned pale and is set in a mass of tiny holes.

As soon as the top is dry – and not before – turn them over to cook on the other side. They should be nicely brown on both sides.

Keep them warm in a folded cloth until they are all done.

For fruit pikelets, as in the pic, add a handful of sultanas after you’ve mixed the batter.

I made these last night and had half the batter left over for this morning’s breakfast. The fruit plumps up lovely.

These can also be made with self raising flour - in which case, simply mix the batter and go straight ahead.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


[More info to come - of course! :)]


Just beginning to cook

Cooking the other side

Done! Takes about 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Two field mushrooms, spread with Pateole mushroom pate and Meridian pesto, pan-fried curried wedges and broccoli - totalling 424 calories.

Wipe the mushrooms and place them in a microwavable dish. Remove the stalks (but leave them in the dish) and spread the mushroom pate over the mushroom, followed by the pesto. Microwave, on full power, for 6-7 minutes.

165g mushrooms 22 calories
54g mushroom pate 124 
15g pesto 75
218g potato 158
One-cal spray 14
100g broccoli 31

I wasn't intending to fast today, until I realised I had to be out of the house before 12, to shop for the first of the three teaching sessions I had this afternoon and evening. I hadn't had breakfast (rarely do, these days), so I simply missed out lunch and only ate when I returned after 7.

I wanted something quick, so I had stuffed mushrooms with pan-fried curried wedges and broccoli. This only amounted to 424 cals, so I had some strawberries dipped in dark chocolate for dessert. All in all, I was pretty stuffed.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Just 10 minutes in the oven at 220C

Bread dough:
200g (1 mug) white bread flour
1 crumbled stock cube
1 teaspoon curry powder
125g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm (handhot) water
1 good teaspoon fresh yeast (or level teaspoon dried active yeast)
25g sunflower oil (I used the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes)

4 dessertspoon Pateole mushroom pate
1 dessertspoon vegan pesto (Meridian)
4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
4 slices mushroom, 4 slices tomato

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Earlier this week, I made a leftover veg curry into a Thai chilli non carne by adding coconut milk, Thai curry paste, lemon juice and soy sauce, red kidney beans and chunks of seitan - it made loads!

I had it one night with brown rice, and the next night with pan-fried curried wedges. Still there was some left!

So I decided to use it as a pie filling,  and have it for dinner tonight along with mashed potatoes.

The pie

Pie 'n' mash!

More pie!
It's easy to make a simple pastry with just self-raising flour, water and oil - but, to the flour I added half a teaspoon each of bouillon powder and curry powder and added tomato puree to the water. The oil I used was poured from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes.

The mash was made with broccoli and cheese (Violife), plus 1/2 tsp bouillon powder.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


Tuesday  23rd June 2015
Fun with chocolate spread today.

First we made a chocolate whirl:

Then we made a tear and share loaf modelled on  a 'Nutella' loaf:

Tuesday 3rd November
Today we made petit pain au chocolat - with three new students, this time. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera, so I have no pics of the lovely bread that they made - but hopefully others who did take pics will send them to me so I can include them here.

The session went well, with a great bunch of people and some very good support. Lots of potential from the new students - I'm expecting great things from them.

Next week we'll make something savoury - possibly sausage parcels.

Tuesday 28th October
1st (taster) session, making fancy dinner rolls with just the one student this afternoon. It was a gentle introduction into breadmaking with the MyDay team.

I've known the director of MyDay for well over 10 years, but we haven't seen each other in a long while, so it was really good to catch up. We have so much in common in our ambitions for the care of people with special needs - this is going to be a very special relationship, I'm sure.

ATM, I'm committed to two more taster sessions - one next Tuesday and one on Thursday. Then we'll see what take-up we get and go from there.

Here's the first batch of bread - fancy dinner rolls - made by the student:

He had some help with the shaping - but he had a lot of input into these rolls!